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The economic fairyland of the modern progressive

A friend — sadly, a progressive friend — recently got all bent out of shape because the little cafe at Target now boasts an automated “front of the house”, thereby putting someone out of a job.  This is, according to him and his little progressive friends, little more than the rich getting richer, giant tyrannical Target Corp. with more money than it needs simply grubbing for more of the same.

Yeah, right.  Before you go to the barricades, think about this.

Automation at this level was never worth the candle until mandated minimum wages outstripped the value of human labor.

You can blame the rich all you want, but the fact is, at $15 an hour, nobody can afford to have humans doing this sort of work. And without a reasonable return on investment, businesses shut down. Even the little cafe at Target can’t afford to operate at a loss, because on the company’s balance sheet, it’s a cost center that needs to turn a profit at the end of the day. So unless you want to pay $10 for that $3 hot dog, it’s going to be a self-serve proposition.

Minimum wages were never intended to be living wages. They were supposed to be entry-level wages for inexperienced workers, like high school kids working part time at the local burger joint. Do these types of jobs have value? Sure. They teach basic skills to entry-level workers. And they’re not worth $15/hour plus all the other expenses incumbent on employers, like unemployment insurance, workman’s comp, employer’s half of Social Security — all of which are based on a percentage of the worker’s pay as opposed to being a flat cost, so whenever the minimum wage goes up, so does all that hidden-to-you cost to the employer, which runs (according to an MIT study that you can Google) another 25 to 40 percent of the employee’s base salary.

If you’ve never run a business or made a payroll and then had to pay all the additional squeeze to the government, that’s all invisible to you. And you complain when prices go up or something like Target automating their little cafe happens, and you don’t understand why that could possibly be, or how it could be anything but an amoral money grab on the part of a rich corporation, because Target obviously has more money than it needs.

Why this sort of thing happens is just basic economics. I understood that in high school, maybe before.  Yet one of my friend’s little Commie commenters opined, “Avarice is not just a sin. It is a sickness. They just can’t get enough. I do pity those poor wealthy souls.”

Yeah well…fuck you, you fucking idiot.  Go crack a book on econ, sometime, if you want to learn why businesses don’t like paying $15/hr minimum wages.